Friday, December 2, 2022

Xi to be endorsed for record third term

The all-important 20th Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party, which is widely expected to endorse an unprecedented third five-year term for Xi Jinping putting him on course to be in power for life, will conclude on Saturday after electing the party’s Central Committee, a powerful body comprising top leaders.
The key once-in-a-five-year Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) comprising 2,296 “elected” delegates from its branches all over the country will end its week-long meeting with the election of the Central Committee, the main governing body of the party.
The present Central Committee is 376 members strong with 205 full members and 171 alternate members. The Congress will determine the size of the new Central Committee as per the published rules of the party.
The new Central Committee will meet on Sunday to elect a Political Bureau, which will in turn elect a Standing Committee, regarded as the most powerful body of the party as it governs the country.
The Standing Committee will meet on the same day to elect the General Secretary, who will be the top leader of the 1.4 billion people country.
The present Political Bureau has 25 members and the Standing Committee comprises seven members, which included the 69-year-old Xi, who remained the party’s General Secretary since 2012. It is widely speculated that Xi will be formally endorsed as the General Secretary for an unprecedented third-five-year term by the new Standing Committee on Sunday.
Xi, who is completing a 10-year tenure this year, will be the first Chinese leader after party founder Mao Zedong to continue in power, ending three decades of rule followed by his predecessors to retire after two five-year tenures.
Observers say the new tenure will put him on course to continue in power for life like Mao.
After the end of the new election process, Xi along with the new Standing Committee members will appear before the media.
A large number of Beijing-based journalists have already been put in a closed-loop system for the past four days to cover the media appearance of the new leaders.
The end of the 20th congress will usher in brand new leaders at all levels, except Xi who is expected to remain a powerful leader continuing to hold the posts of President of China, General Secretary of the CPC and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high command of the two million-strong Chinese military.
Premier Li Keqiang, 66, the number two ranked leader has already announced that he will not continue in the post though he is still below the official retirement age limit of 68.
The new administration will take over in March next year after the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s parliament.
Ahead of the 20th Congress, Beijing witnessed rare public protests with banners hung on overpasses of major thoroughfares, protesting against Xi’s unpopular zero-COVID policy and authoritarian rule.
Banners displayed on a bridge in the district of Haidian, home to universities and tech firms in Beijing, had slogans: food, not COVID test; reform, not a cultural revolution; freedom, not lockdowns; votes, not a leader; dignity, not lies; citizens, not slaves.
Battery-operated loudspeakers were hung in some places blaring anti-Xi and anti-Zero COVID slogans.
Police quickly moved to remove the banners and loudspeakers. Similar reports of protests came from different cities of China.
After the appearance of the banners, security was further tightened in Beijing with deployment of police on most of the city’s bridges and underpasses.
Besides electing the new Central Committee, the congress, which evoked interest in India and the rest of the world, is expected to endorse among others a key amendment to the party’s constitution incorporating the “Xi Jinping thought”, the new theoretical doctrine further elevating his status in the party.
The 2017 Congress of the CPC amended its charter “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Experts believe the new revision of the party charter would put Xi’s status beyond challenge.
Xi may shorten the tongue-twisting political thought to just “Xi Jinping Thoughts”, which will put him on a par with party founder Mao in the party ideology, said Alfred Wu, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
“The current version is 16 characters long in Chinese, and difficult for most people to remember. If he manages to shorten it to ‘Xi Jinping Thoughts’ – with just five characters – it will not only travel better but will also make him like an equal to Mao,” Wu told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post recently.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry already hinted on Thursday about Xi’s attendance at the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia next month which was expected to be his first foreign tour during which he will have an opportunity for one-on-one meetings with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to attend the Bali summit. PTI KJV PMS ZH

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